Living off grid isn’t always easy, but it is almost always interesting. We are having a test kitchen today. Last night we tried to use the bread maker to bake a loaf of bread. The way it’s supposed to work is it mixes the dough, it kneads the dough, it allows it to rise, it stirs it again, allows it to rise again, then it bakes the loaf of bread. Well, everything went well until the first rise. The heating element turned on and stayed on, that’s not supposed to happen, a short time into the first rise, the machine gave me an error code and beeped. I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on, but it soon became evident that things were going wrong, the heat coil was still on, the inner chamber was heating up to cooking temperatures, the bread did not have a chance to do the first rise. I turned the machine off and extracted the dough. I’ll have to investigate the bread machine further to see if it’s going to work properly, if nothing else, I can use it to mix and knead doughs for tortillas and bread.
I was able to rescue most of the dough, I just had to pull off some of the outer layer that had begun to cook. I kneaded the dough a little, shaped it into a ball and put it into a heavy, round cake pan. I covered it with a towel and let it sit in a cool room overnight. I didn’t want to try to bake it last night, there was a good reason for that.
We do have an oven, of sorts. It’s a small oven that came out of a very old travel trailer, it has a 3 burner top and a small oven compartment. It was gifted to us by our very good friends (thanks!!!!). The stove looked like it had never been used, BUT the trailer where it had been originally housed was in bad shape. Animals had gotten in, ring tailed cats, these look like a cross between a raccoon and a cat. They did what animals do, they poo’d and pee’d on everything, including the stove. I spent some time cleaning, scrubbing, removing layers of stuff you don’t even want to know about, and yes, I did wear rubber gloves.
It cleaned up very well, looked like new and worked like new, the 3 burners on top worked fine. The inside of the oven looked pristine, I doubt it had ever been fired up. The thing is, the first time you light anything like this, you have to burn off the oils and dust, and it’s good to do this when you can open all of the windows, it IS going to stink. We lit the oven for the first time, we knew it would smell, but we didn’t realize just how bad it would smell. The oven doesn’t have a thermostat, but since Bob is experienced with repairing restaurant equipment, he has a temperature probe, so we popped in the probe, and lit the oven.
By the time the probe read 300° F, smoke was starting to waft up through the vents on the oven, and eeewwww! Did it stink, we quickly opened all of the windows, even put a fan in one window. It didn’t help, the smell got so bad that we decided to move the whole thing outside. Bob got on one side, I got on the other and we moved the whole thing out on the porch. It was still lit, the propane bottle is attached to the metal frame where the oven sits. Once outside, we allowed the oven to get up to 650° F, yes that sounds very hot, and yes, I was nervous about it. But Bob is experienced with cooking equipment and he was on top of everything.
Eventually the smelly smoke subsided, we turned off the propane and allowed the oven to cool off on it’s own. If it smells or smokes next time we light the oven, we may have to disassemble the oven and replace the insulation. In the mean time, we will go down to the minivan (that has been parked by the road since we got here, it’s still packed with some of our belongings) and get my counter top convection oven. We will have to use our generator, but it should only take 30 minutes or less to bake this loaf of bread. That is after I clean out the mouse poo and burn that off too, fortunately it should be easier to clean and burn off, it has a thermostat, I can set it and forget it! …well almost.
It’s unbelievable how much trouble this loaf of bread has been! It had better taste good! Stay tuned for updates on this loaf of bread.
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